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The Importance of Customer Service, Pt. 1

Columbia College understands the importance of customer service. In fact, we value service so much that we have a committee that focuses on reinforcing "the college culture, commitment and continued growth toward excellent customer service." As an organization we value customer service and hold ourselves to that standard in all we do. In order for any organization to provide excellent customer service, it's important to follow guidelines such as these:

  • I project a positive image and energy.
  • I am courteous and respectful to all customers.
  • I go above and beyond.
  • I create relationships with my customers.
  • I am a team player.

In this article I'll speak to the first guideline: I project a positive image and energy.

Positive Image, Positive Energy

Our first guideline, projecting a positive image and energy, means that you have a smile on your face; you look approachable, happy and interested; you keep your conversations positive and find ways to ALWAYS say YES.

The greatest symbol of customer service is the smile. It's the first way to project a positive image and energy. SMILE isn't some quick little rule-of-thumb for turning a frown upside down. Rather, it represents what is foundational in an authentic display of courtesy. Here's an acronym to remember how to SMILE. It stands for the following:

S is for Service. If you truly like serving others, a smile will be a natural extension of that attitude. Excellent customer service is unconditional service. Unconditional service is about having the best attitude possible no matter what. Having the best attitude requires keeping a smile on your face. 

M is for Mirror. If you want the customer to be happy, you must take the initiative. You simply have to mirror the correct behaviors you expect from others. And it starts with a smile. Just remember, when you smile, try to match the emotional level others are at. Some of our customers aren't going to feel like being greeted by Bozo the Clown. Smiling can simply be an act of pleasantry rather than an act of cheerleading. 

I is for "I Choose." The greatest power we as humans possess is our ability to choose. Make it your choice to smile.

L is for Lighten Up. Or perhaps L could be for Laughter. Either way, it's important to keep a sense of humor and bring it to the surface whenever possible. When it's hard to smile, find your laughing place and draw from it. 

E is for Engage. Engagement is what we mean when we say "Be present in the moment." Know what you're doing and what your role means to the mission of the organization. Feel a sense of ownership in the process - be aware of your sense of empowerment at all times.

Feeling Like They're Right

Let's face it - probably almost every one of us has rolled our eyes at least once when we've heard someone say "the customer is always right." Right? But, truth be told, we should always listen to our customers and seriously consider what they have to say. Being able to say Yes to our customers requires us to become extremely knowledgeable about what our customers need, and also extremely knowledgeable about what we can offer them. The customer isn't always right, but you have to make them feel like they are. We have to provide whatever we can to make sure they feel their needs have been addressed. And if there's something we can't offer them (which might require us to say "No"), then we need to find out who can offer it to them, or perhaps find something else we can offer to them instead. Say "Yes" to your customers - assume they are right. You will never win the argument. Always offer the best service you can possibly provide.

Even in the best job, there are days when it's not going to be easy to project a positive image and energy. Sometimes you have to acknowledge that the circumstances in which you find yourself are awful and uncomfortable. However, you still have to treat others with respect and dignity. It's about attitude - if you find ways to smile you'll look approachable, happy, interested, you'll be able to keep the conversation positive and you'll be in a better place to find a way to always say yes. 

Related articles:

How to Conduct an Effective Meeting

Building Strong Relationships, Pt. 1

Building Strong Relationships, Pt. 2

Workforce, Columbia College, Customer Service

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Portrait of Ann Merrifield